Deep water, and everything that swims in it, tends to cause me a little anxiety. Mostly because I am about as at home in water as a giraffe. I imagine. Although if it turns out that they are in fact champion swimmers then I might as well give up now. The last time I went snorkelling was on a beautiful island off the coast of Mexico. I put my mask on, put my face beneath the waves and came face to face with a minute fish. I screamed, it probably said something off colour (you know what tiny fish are) and we both swam like mad in opposite directions. Chris has never let me live it down.
But despite my concerns that little fish only become big fish thanks to a diet of human flesh, I do really want to enjoy snorkelling. Because when I’m on holiday the number one thing I want to do is see wildlife. And since I’m in Borneo, a place that could be considered the wildlife capital of the world (orangutans and proboscis monkeys, nuff said) there really is no excuse to be alarmed by tiny fish. Even if they are wannabe man eaters.
So Chris and I booked ourselves a snorkelling and sea kayaking expedition (using the excellent Sticky Rice Travel based in Kota Kinabalu). Our day started with a paddle over to ‘Magic Coral Island’, an island made entirely of coral remnants that is constantly changing shape depending on the ocean currents. After a break for snorkelling we pressed on to Pulau Mamutik, another island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park for lunch and more snorkelling. At this point the weather turned against us, with strong winds and big waves. Chris and I are pretty competent kayakers, but this was well out of our comfort zone! Thankfully we were able to sneak onto a motor boat for a very choppy ride back to the mainland.
Chris had the presence of mind to bring his Go Pro camera, and filmed the whole thing.
Top wildlife spots for me where the sand bubbler crabs on Tanjung Aru beach, beautiful black neon damselfish, and three clown fish closely guarding an anemone. In fact that was the moment that turned me on to snorkelling. Tiny fish may all secretly be Jaws in disguise, but they are completely fascinating to watch.
Today we’re bidding a fond farewell to KK and moving on to Sandakan, another city in northern Borneo, hell bent on seeing even more wildlife. We have arranged (again with Sticky Rice) a three day trip along the Sungai Kinabantag (Borneo’s largest river) on foot and by boat in search of animals. Tomorrow I hope to be sitting on a boat scouring the surrounding jungle for an elusive flash of ginger fur. Wish me orangutans!